Who does Paul consider to be “saints” in Romans 1:7?
“To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:7
The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious." It is almost always used in the plural, “saints.”
"Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:" Acts 9:13
"And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda." Acts 9:32
"Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.“ Acts 26:10
There is only one instance of the singular use, and that is "Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you." Philippians 4:21
In Scripture there are 67 uses of the plural “saints” compared to only one use of the singular word “saint.” Even in that one instance, a plurality of saints is in view: “every saint” (Philippians 4:21).
The idea of the word “saints” is a group of people set apart for the Lord and His kingdom. There are three references referring to godly character of saints: "That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints.." Romans 16:2
"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" Ephesians 4:12
"But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;" Ephesians 5:3
Scripturally speaking, the “saints” are the body of Christ, Christians, the church. All Christians are considered saints. All Christians are saints—and at the same time are called to be saints.
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:” 1 Corinthians 1:2
The words “sanctified” and “holy” come from the same Greek root as the word that is commonly translated “saints.” Christians are saints by virtue of their connection with Jesus the Christ. Christians are called to be saints, to increasingly allow their daily life to more closely match their position in Christ. This is the biblical description and calling of the saints.
How does the Roman Catholic understanding of “saints” compare with the biblical teaching? Not very well. In Roman Catholic theology, the saints are in Heaven. In the Bible, the saints are on Earth. In Roman Catholic teaching, a person does not become a saint unless he/she is “beatified” or “canonized” by the Pope or prominent bishop. In the Bible, everyone who has received Jesus Christ by faith is a saint. In Roman Catholic practice, the saints are revered, prayed to, and in some instances, worshipped. In the Bible, saints are called to revere, worship, and pray to God alone.